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Gang War In Purgatory: ‘Dead Letters’ Delivers [Review]

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Like a good pop song, if a genre comic is going to keep you interested, it has to have a hook. It really doesn't matter if the art is exceptional, or it has an inventive structure or well-written characters. If it can't be distilled into one intriguing sentence of less than ten words, then it's not going to keep your attention. Blind guy fights crime; orphaned billionaire is world's greatest detective; six guns control the fate of the world; this Avenger is a freaking mess; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. But you can't just have the hook -- a comic with bad art, poor writing, and a fantastic hook is still a mediocre comic.

Dead Letters Vol. 1: The Existential Op by Christopher Sebela and Chris Visions, is far from mediocre, with strong writing, captivating and kinetic art, and a hook that will grab you from the get-go: amnesiac detective joins gang war in Purgatory.

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Brubaker & Phillips’ Hollywood Noir ‘The Fade Out’ Is Their Most Ambitious Collaboration Yet [Review]

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We can all agree that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips form one of the most successful comics collaborations of all time, right? Over the last fifteen years the pair have routinely produced some of the best comics of the present age -- Sleeper, Incognito, about a thousand pages of Criminal, and the just-completed Fatale. They're the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of smart, stylish, noir-tinged genre comics. Whenever their names appear together on a cover, it's practically a guarantee of excellence.

Now, after years of telling stories influenced by classic film noir, Brubaker and Phillips head directly to the source with The Fade Out, a dark and enthralling mystery about the dark truths behind the myth of old Hollywood.

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Rediscovering The Best Version Of Mark Miller In ‘Starlight’ With Goran Parlov

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When Mark Millar and Goran Parlov's Starlight was announced, I had mixed feelings. Goran Parlov may be one of the five best comics artists living today, and it sounded like a good idea: a retired hero in the mold of John Carter returns to the planet he once saved, decades after his prime, to be a hero once again.

But often it seems that no matter how good an idea is, Mark Millar can't help but screw it up. His love of sensationalism and his need to be controversial have sapped the power out of many of his strongest ideas, and I wasn't that surprised when our own Kevin Church ripped the first issue to shreds. I read it anyway, because Goran Parlov exists, and life is much better for it.

I was a little surprised to find out that I totally disagreed with Church's review. And I was shocked that the Mark Millar that I like actually decided to turn up.

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Magic Omnibus: Embracing The Radical Weird In Grant Morrison’s ‘Doom Patrol’

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While at Comic Con, Grant Morrison dropped several enigmatic hints and subliminal messages to ComicsAlliance about his next mega-event, Multiversity, broke down the divisions between fictional universes, and even proclaimed that he thinks that he's made the world's first real superhero. He says things like that. Some people like him, many love him, and some people straight up hate him. With Multiversity starting up in August, you can be sure that there will soon be legions of detractors proclaiming that Morrison is the most overrated writer in comics, and nothing he's ever done has ever made any sense.

The release of DC's Doom Patrol Omnibus finally equips us to give these people the bludgeoning they deserve. (Metaphorical bludgeoning. ComicsAlliance does not condone actual bludgeoning.)

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Despair At Its Finest: David Lapham’s ‘Murder Me Dead’ [Review]

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When discussing the oeuvre of David Lapham, the comic that comes up again and again is obviously Stray Bullets. As great as Stray Bullets is, though, it tends to overshadow the rest of Lapham's body of work rather unfairly in some cases. Despite the several very good comics that Lapham has produced besides his most famous title – including the incomplete Young Liars, the raucous Juice Squeezers, and of course WWF Battlemania – none can match the near-mythic level of quality and reputation of Stray Bullets, and tend to just get left out of the conversation.

The new trade paperback collection of Murder Me Dead, available July 23 from Image Comics, could help change that trend. A dark, stirring, and emotionally manipulative noir about self-destruction, lies, and guilt, it may be the best “other” Lapham comic in his catalog.

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Privacy And Isolation In Brian K. Vaughan And Marcos Martin’s ‘The Private Eye’

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Internet privacy is easily one of the most confusing realities of life in the 21st century. It's the best ongoing story in collective awareness, complete with heroes, villains, victims and martyrs, turning points, and insane plot twists that regularly put The Good Wife to shame. PRISM, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, XBox One, social engineering, News International, Anonymous, and even our stupid Facebook updates are all involved. Every player and plot-line are all tangled up in a worried knot that gets bigger and more complex every year. It's all one story, and we're all living it; spectators, beneficiaries, victims, and contributors. It's one of the defining issues of our age, a still-forming zeitgeist that could be explored for years to come.

Just not in comics. Because nobody's going to top Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente's The Private Eye.

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‘Liquid City’ Vol. 3: Calamity, Family, Diversity and Beauty [Review]

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Through its prior two volumes, Image's Liquid City has established itself as one of the most intriguing anthology series on the comics landscape. Though it's only comes out once every couple of years, the collection featuring the work of Southeast Asian creators is nonetheless one of the most beguiling collections of talent largely unknown in the west, and provides a wealth of curious comics in each volume.

This week, the anthology returns with another cabal of creators providing over twenty original stories for the 250-plus-page Liquid City Volume 3. And even though there was a huge leap in quality from the first volume to the second, the newest edition is easily the best in the series.

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Ellis And Howard Imagine A New Kind Of Alien Invasion In ‘Trees’ #1 [Review]

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Alien invasion stories have always been fertile ground for allegory. Throughout the history of the sub-genre, spaceships filled with arachnid creatures, little green men, shape-shifting Skrulls, omnipotent super-beings, and brain-eating slugs have come to represent oppressive and militaristic governments, Communism, the disenfranchised, and several more variations of the great and unknowable Other, usually influenced by politics or social issues. Yet with all the metaphoric territory the alien invasions have covered, in Image Comics' Trees, Warren Ellis and Jason Howard prove there's still plenty left unsaid.

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Mark Millar And Duncan Fegredo’s ‘MPH’ #1: Awesome Art, Just Interesting Enough Ideas [Review]

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MPH, the new super-speedster book from Mark Millar and Duncan Fegredo, debuts from Image Comics this week. And apparently it's pretty awesome, because it's already getting its own movie, optioned by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura just one week after Fox bought the rights to Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu's Superior. If Millar didn't already have a tight-enough grip on the nexus of Hollywood and comics, Superior and MPH movies would give him the metaphorical finger-strength to squeeze it into a diamond. So is MPH worthy of the same treatment as Kick-Ass and Wanted? Please read this next part with the inner voice of Dateline's Keith Morrison: Or is Hollywood, much like Roscoe Rodriguez in MPH, moving a little... too... fast? Thank you for playing.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Image, Opinion, Reviews

‘Herobear And The Kid: Saving Time’ #1 Shows How All-Ages Comics Are Done [Review]

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A common lament among comics lovers is that there aren't enough books for kids anymore, and it's a valid one. The average comic is written to be understood by preteens and up, while the average reader hovers somewhere around the age 30, and it’s unlikely that this trend is going to reverse anytime soon. But most of those 30-year-olds aren’t readers today because they started in their late teens or early twenties, they’re readers today because they had their initial exposure to comics probably before the age of ten. Even though we’ve been trying to convince the rest of the world that comics aren’t for kids anymore since 1986, kids are absolutely necessary to the medium’s survival. If comic books hope to have a future amidst rapidly-evolving children’s media and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program, then a healthy percentage of comics published today need to be geared toward the under-ten crowd, and they need to be good.

Fortunately, we have Mike Kunkel’s Herobear and the Kid: Saving Time #1 to show everybody how it’s done.

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